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Bong lists Drilon, Juan Ponce Enrile as possible defense witnesses

MANILA, Philippines - Detained Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. has listed Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, who is also facing plunder and graft charges for alleged involvement in the pork barrel fund scam, as his possible defense witnesses once trial begins.

In a pre-trial brief submitted before the anti-graft court, Revilla said his colleagues are being eyed to testify for him in their capacity as former chairmen of the Senate finance committee.

Revilla’s lawyers also listed Rolando Andaya Jr. and Florencio Abad as possible witnesses, being former and incumbent chiefs of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Other possible defense witnesses are former senator and now Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and former Commission on Audit (COA) chairman Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan, whose report on the use of pork barrel funds from 2007 to 2009 became one of the bases for the filing of plunder charges against him.

Revilla’s former chief of staff and co-accused in the plunder and graft cases Richard Cambe, suspected pork barrel fund scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles and whistle-blowers Benhur Luy, Marina Sula, Merlina Suñas and Ruby Tuason are also among the 34 names listed.

Revilla, whose petition for bail was denied by the Sandiganbayan’s First Division, said he may also take the witness stand if his lawyers would deem it necessary during the course of the trial.

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Revilla, Enrile and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada were the first three lawmakers indicted by the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly receiving millions in kickbacks or commissions from Napoles-controlled non-government organizations (NGOs) that implemented ghost projects using pork barrel funds.

Enrile has been granted bail by the Supreme Court while Estrada’s motion seeking temporary liberty is still being heard by the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division.

Revilla and Estrada have been detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) custodial center in Camp Crame for more than a year.

Malacañang said the government’s position in the pork barrel controversy has been consistent and clear from the onset: “Let the evidence point to the direction of the inquiry.”

“We leave it up to the investigating body to assess and evaluate the complaint filed,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said. – With Aurea Calica


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